Project Status

Project Type:  Dug Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 350 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/23/2024

Project Features

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The Lema community is found in a relatively dry part of Southeast Kenya. Most houses here are made of bricks and iron sheet roofing. The area is sparsely populated, with most community members owning large pieces of land. Indigenous thickets and bushes have been cleared to create paths. The roads used in these areas are not paved, so they are impassable during the wet seasons.

This region's water crisis is very intense, especially during the dry seasons. A common site for this community of more than 5,000 people is people walking to and from water sources with donkeys ferrying water. Most people make three two-hour trips a day to get the water they need. Those fortunate enough to own donkeys to carry the water can make fewer trips, but most households cannot afford that luxury.

These walks for water, with or without donkeys, waste community members' precious time. People have to wake up very early to fetch water at the scoop holes, which are often over-crowded.

"The water scarcity issue affects us a lot. We have to walk for long distances in search of water, and this also results in body issues such as exhaustion and fatigue," explained Damaris Katumani Mwanzo, a 51-year-old farmer who lives in the community.

Damaris relies on water drawn from scoop holes in the Kyangulumi River, but it is a seasonal source. When the river dries up, Damaris and her neighbors have to walk along the riverbed, searching for spots to dig scoop holes to reach the water under the sand. When the river dries completely, they have to walk more than five miles to the Athi River to fetch water.

The scoop holes are open and prone to contamination from toxins such as animal waste, farm chemicals, and improper household waste materials. All of these pollute the water and expose the community members to the risks of contracting water diseases.

"The water we fetch is not clean. I have been sick with typhoid and amoeba as a result of drinking water from this source. It is very costly to treat these diseases," Damaris said.

"A lot of time is also wasted in search of water. This time could be channeled to better, income-generating, and productive activities."

This community is well known for its development projects and unity in accomplishing those projects. Together, the area's self-help group constructed the church where they all go to worship. They also established a table banking system where they borrow soft loans and return at low-interest rates.

Community members support each other in social activities such as market days, church services, weddings, dowry payments, fundraising functions, among other events that bring people together.

Reliable Water for Lema Comunity

Our main entry point into Lema Community has been the Katothya Self-Help Group, which is comprised of households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members will be our hands and feet in both constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.

Hand-Dug Well

This particular hand-dug well will be built adjacent to a sand dam project, which will supply clean drinking water once it rains. We have supplied the group with the tools needed for excavation. With the guidance of our artisans and mechanics, the excavated well will be cased, sealed with a well pad, and then finished with a new AfriDev pump.

Excavation takes a month or more on average, depending on the nature of the rock beneath. Construction of the well lining and installation of the pump takes 12 days maximum. The well will be lined with a concrete wall including perforations so that once it rains, water will filter in from the sand dam.

This well will bring clean water closer to families.

New Knowledge

These community members currently do their best to practice good hygiene and sanitation, but their severe lack of water has been a big hindrance to reaching their fullest potential.

We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community level. This training will help to ensure that participants have the knowledge they need to make the most out of their new water point as soon as water is flowing.

One of the most important topics we plan to cover is the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.

We and the community strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.

We typically work with self-help groups for three to five years on multiple water projects. We will conduct follow-up visits and refresher trainings during this period and remain in contact with the group after all of the projects are completed to support their efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene.

Project Updates

June, 2021: Lema Community Hand-dug Well Complete!

Lema Community, Kenya, now has a new source of water, thanks to your donation. We constructed a new hand-dug well adjacent to a new sand dam on the riverbed. The sand dam will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter water, while the well will provide a safer method of drawing drinking water for the community.

The recent rains have already helped the dam begin to build up sand and store water. It could take up to three years of rain for this sand dam to reach maximum capacity because sometimes it only rains once a year! As the sand dam matures and stores more sand, the surrounding landscape will become lush and fertile.

"Access to a reliable and safe water point will be essential in protecting us from contracting any water-related diseases such as typhoid, amoeba, and dysentery, which were very rampant. The distance we used to walk during the dry periods will now reduce. We will have access to the water point near our homesteads. We'll get water for drinking, cooking, and general household hygiene and sanitation," said Eunice M.

Hand-Dug Well Construction Process

Construction for this well was a success!

We delivered the experts, materials, and tools, but the community helped get an extraordinary amount of work done too. They collected local materials to supplement the project, including sand, stones, and water. When all of the materials were ready, it was time to dig in!

First, we excavated a hole 7 feet in diameter up to the recommended depth of 25 feet. (Most hand-dug wells do not reach that depth due to hard rocks between 10-18 feet). As planned, the diameter shrank to 5 feet when the well lining was complete. This lining is made of brick and mortar with perforations to allow for water to seep through. When complete, sand builds up around the well walls, naturally filtering the rainwater stored behind the dam.

Once the lining reached ground level, we laid a precast concrete slab on top of the lining and joined it to the mortar wall. In preparation for the hand pump's installation, we fixed four bolts onto the slab during casting. The concrete then needs to dry for two weeks before installing the pump.

Next, the mechanics arrived to install the pump as community members watched, learning how to manage simple maintenance tasks for themselves. Finally, we gave the well another few days after installing the pump to dry the joints completely. We installed the pump level with the top of the sand dam. As the dam matures, sand will build-up to the top of the wall. Until then, people will use the concrete steps to get their water.

"Available and reliable water from this project will help my family and me in accessing clean drinking water. Initially, I would walk for very long distances in search of water, there were very long queues at the water point and a lot of our time was wasted. Now, the water point is adjacent to my home, ensuring I can access water within a short period of time. I anticipate performing my household chores on time, cleaning the house, and ensuring the meals are prepared well and early enough. This will enable me to have enough time to engage in income-generating activities," said Catherine Sammy.

New Knowledge

We worked with the Katothya Self-Help Group for this project. The members and their families contributed materials and physical labor to complete the project. We trained the group on various skills, including bookkeeping, financial management, project management, group dynamics, and governance. We also conducted hygiene and sanitation training to teach skills like soap making and improve behaviors such as handwashing.

When an issue arises concerning the water project, the group members are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure it works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers to assist them.

The participants were recruited through the area field officer, Mr. Benson Kituku, who called the Chairman before the three-day Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) Training and informed him on the training dates.

The Chairman then informed the community members about the planned training session, which turned up in large numbers throughout the training days.

The training took place at their sand dam site since the group was still constructing their first sand dam. The site was spacious as it accommodated all the community members, and we were able to observe the COVID-19 protocols such as physical distancing.

Our trainer conferred with the field staff about their previous visits to households and interviews with community members to determine which topics the community could improve upon. We decided to train on health problems in the community, good and bad hygiene behaviors, how diseases spread and their prevention, sanitation improvements, improved hygiene behaviors, plan for behavioral change, handwashing, and soap making.

"Since the start of the three-day training, we have learned a lot about hygiene and sanitation. The session has come in at the right moment. We have now covered different aspects and domains of proper hygiene and sanitation practices, especially at this prime time when we are still fighting against the pandemic. With the knowledge acquired, we will be able to subdue the entire community with the proper practices to administer. I am now able to make soap for myself as well as other detergents which are key in sustaining high hygiene standards at my household," said Benson Mutuku Kasimu.

"The training has helped me to know how to protect myself against COVID-19 by washing my hands, sanitizing, preparing soap, and observing social distance. In addition, through the availability of water, we will set up more handwashing stations which will improve the handwashing practices, especially now with the increasing rates of COVID-19 infections."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

May, 2021: Lema Community project underway!

An unreliable well is making people in Lema Community, Kenya wait in long lines and seek out unsafe water sources. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the narrative and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with news of success!

Project Photos

Project Type

Hand-dug wells have been an important source of water throughout human history! Now, we have so many different types of water sources, but hand-dug wells still have their place. Hand dug wells are not as deep as borehole wells, and work best in areas where there is a ready supply of water just under the surface of the ground, such as next to a mature sand dam. Our artisans dig down through the layers of the ground and then line the hole with bricks, stone, or concrete, which prevent contamination and collapse. Then, back up at surface level, we install a well platform and a hand pump so people can draw up the water easily.

A Year Later: Clean Water, Anytime!

July, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped Lema Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Everlyne. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Lema Community 1B.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Lema Community 1B maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

"Before the construction of this project, getting water was a different story altogether," said 17-year-old Everlyne K.

Before we installed a sand dam and shallow well in Lema Community last year, the community members struggled every day, walking kilometers back and forth to the closest water source.

"Having to walk for [so] long could exhaust us such that after fetching water one could do nothing," Everlyne continued. "It was such a tedious journey we often referred to it as a ‘walk for water.' We did not like it at all, but the situation forced us to be enslaved."

But now, a year later, such worries are long gone.

"Now, I can testify that the slavery thinking has been erased by this project," Everlyne said. "We feel good just walking a few meters to fetch clean water any time of the day and any season of the year. I am now happy to get clean water. I have a plan to plant more trees at home in order to make the environment more appealing."

And Everlyne still remembers the important parts of the hygiene and sanitation training we held, which has improved everyone's health.

"I focus on improving sanitation levels at my home so that no one gets sick," Everlyne concluded. "I have managed to fight viruses, including COVID-19, by washing my hands and keeping the proper sanitation levels at home. No one of late has been reported to be sick from [drinking] unsafe water."


Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Lema Community 1B maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Lema Community 1B – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


Project Sponsor - Lifeplus Foundation